Tag Archives: addiction recovery

Please note: this event will be rescheduled for a future date. Apologies for any inconvenience.

Posted on October 17, 2017

Talk with Dr. Bob Meyers about how families and friends can help when a loved one drinks or abuses drugs.

Saturday, October 21, 5:00 pm EST

Register for This Webinar

As concerned significant others, families and friends, our intimate connection should make us natural allies, but we often don’t know how to talk with each other or work together when it comes to addiction, with all the emotional intensity that brings to relationships.

SMART and CRAFT work beautifully together to encourage healthy, productive efforts towards an improved quality of life for everyone, and we are particularly proud of our association with Dr. Meyers, and the growth of our efforts to help SMART Recovery Family & Friends based on CRAFT, Community Reinforcement and Family Training.

Robert Meyers has pioneered the study of how families can help support those with addiction and is a creator of CRAFT, the scientifically validated and widely acclaimed alternative to “intervention,” as we widely think of it. His book, Get Your Loved One Sober: Alternatives to Nagging, Pleading, and Threatening, co-written with Brenda Wolfe in 2003, has already become a classic.

Dr. Meyers is an internationally renowned speaker and gives CRAFT training workshops around the world. He has been in the field of addiction treatment for 38 years and long affiliated with the University of New Mexico. He is currently director of Robert J. Meyers, Ph.D. & Associates.

SMART Recovery is pleased to continue to offer its Special Event Webinars and subsequent podcasts free to everyone who may have interest in topics related to addiction and recovery, in addition to our extensive community of participants, facilitators, professionals, and friends, and of course, the family and friends of loved ones. SMART celebrates its 23rd anniversary; we hope you’ll join our warm community of support!


Review of “Over the Influence: The Harm Reduction Guide to Controlling Your Drug and Alcohol Use” (2nd ed.), by P. Denning and J. Little, published by Guilford Press, 2017

Posted on October 10, 2017

Book review by A.Tom Horvath, Ph.D.

Although harm reduction is commonly used in other countries, this approach to coping with problematic addictive behavior is unfortunately uncommon in the US. The authors are two US harm reduction leaders. They founded the Center for Harm Reduction Therapy in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2000. This book is intended for persons considering change. The authors have also written a book for professionals, the acclaimed Practicing Harm Reduction Therapy, now in a 2nd edition.

To provide an overview of this impressive work I will extensively quote it. In response to the question “What is Harm Reduction?” they provide the following three paragraphs (p. 197)

“Harm reduction is a way to help people change their substance use without demanding immediate and lifelong abstinence. It uses many creative strategies to keep people alive and safe while they figure out how to develop a healthier relationship with drugs. For some people, that means abstinence; for others that means moderate or safer use.”

“Harm reduction takes a health perspective rather than a moral or legal perspective, on drug use. Drug use is not bad. It is normal human behavior, and most people don’t get into trouble with it. Drug misuse is a habit that has gotten out of hand, or it is a signal of other co-occurring problems.”

“Harm reduction attends to every aspect of health—physical, mental and emotional, social and economic. It is nonjudgmental, compassionate, and pragmatic—it starts where the person is, stays with the person through the entire process of change, and never ever kicks anyone out.”

The sections of this book are:

Preface: How did we get here?
Introduction: Why harm reduction?

1) Welcome to harm reduction
2) Why do people use drugs?
3) When is drug use harmful?
4) Why do some people get into trouble while others don’t?
5) How do I know if I am in trouble?
6) How do people change?
7) You don’t have to quit to change?
8) Substance use management
9) Taking care of yourself while still using
10) How can I tell if harm reduction is working?
11) Finding the right help
12) A letter to family and friends of people who use drugs

What should you know about drugs: A quick reference

For SMART meeting leaders many of the chapters or appendices alone would be sufficient reason to purchase this book. In particular the quick reference to drugs (the 1st appendix) includes a section, for each drug or drug class, on the “beneficial effects.” This section is consistent with how SMART conducts a cost-benefit analysis (CBA), and provides essential information for understanding the user’s motivations.

SMART meeting leaders will find the entire book to contain familiar language and a familiar motivational perspective. Chapter 7 includes specific mention of the Stages of Change (p. 131) and provides an extended presentation that weaves together the underlying concepts of the Change Plan Worksheet and the Cost Benefit Analysis. Chapter 8 includes Triggers (p. 145), as well as classic harm reduction steps to reduce harm while not stopping or reducing use.

Some SMART meeting leaders might view SMART’s abstinence approach as very different than a harm reduction approach. I suggest the alternative perspective that all approaches to problematic addictive behavior involve making changes that are appealing in the long term but not so appealing in the short term. The extent to which each person is willing to honor the long term over the short term varies person to person, and time to time in the same person. Harm reduction provides a unifying framework for helping anyone, at any moment, in their personal change process.

It falls outside of SMART meeting guidelines to discuss classic harm reduction methods (like changing your route of administration). However, we do focus on “stopping,” which is also a unifying framework. Anyone who wants to honor the long term over the short term will need to “stop” something, to some extent, at some point. The harm reduction approach is larger than, and includes, the SMART approach. It would benefit any SMART meeting leader to be familiar with this larger perspective.

In full disclosure, the back cover of this book includes the following quote from me: “A highly informative, practical, passionate and moving guide…The stories on these pages are reminders of the power of the human spirit.” I’m pleased to say that, after reading this book a second time (for this review), this quote seems even more applicable.

We invite SMART-related blog entries from all interested readers. Entries should have strong pertinence to SMART. Queries are welcome. Send manuscripts or queries to blog@smartrecovery.org





Hurricanes Can’t Stop SMART Recovery Conference from Rising Strong!

Posted on October 3, 2017

Things were a little touch-and-go as to whether SMART’s 2017 Annual Conference: Rising Strong would be able to occur in Ft. Lauderdale on September 22-24. But much like the conference theme and SMART’s unstoppable growth, Rising Strong took place as scheduled. The Conference was well attended and received great ratings from the volunteers, meeting participants and treatment professionals who attended.

SMART remains grateful for the financial support of our sponsors, Synergy Recovery Center/Synergy Executive, and the Florida branch of NAADAC.

The President’s Address by Dr. Joe Gerstein, and Guerrilla Tactics for the Hostile, Difficult, Disengaged, and Over-Engaged Participant Part 2 by Dr. David Saenz were the two favorite presentations of attendees.

SMART’s new 5-Year Strategic Plan was debuted at the Conference, and included in many of the comments during Dr. Gerstein’s President’s Address. A copy of the Strategic Plan can be found here.

“Great conference, well organized and concise, no wasted time. I learned things I will use and facilitate meetings a little differently.” Dan Piddington, Synergy Recovery Center and SMART Facilitator

Also enjoyed were new results from the Peer Alternatives to Addiction (PAL) study, presented by Dr. Sarah Zemore, and a research review by Dr. William Campbell of the Checkup & Choices app, which when used in conjunction with SMART meetings, is shown to enhance recovery outcomes.

Organizational-related presentations — including an update on SMART Recovery International; BMore SMART, a program for growing SMART in inner cities; and SMART coming alive on Prince Edward Island, Canada — were each well received.

“Totally enjoyed the fellowship and enthusiasm of members from all over the U.S., Australia, Canada, and England. SMART continues to be supported by science, hard to argue with data. I learned some new skills from other facilitators. Dr. Joe continues to inspire.” Michael Weiner, Treatment Professional

Breakout sessions on four topics of interest to attendees were enjoyed and considered a valuable learning experience.

Dr. Don Sheeley received the 2017 Joseph Gerstein Award for Outstanding Service. While not able to attend because of a conflict, Dr. Sheeley expressed it was an honor to learn of his selection following the meeting.

“The conference was very helpful and informative. I got to meet many fellow travelers in the world of recovery from old destructive behaviors and the men and women who work hard to support me. My passion to bring SMART to as many as possible continues to just rise up!” James R. Moore, SMART Facilitator, West Palm Beach, FL

Sunday’s Motivational Interviewing Workshop, led by Dr. Lori Eickleberry was extremely well received, with ratings of 9 out of 10 for every question on the evaluation form. Comments included: “One of the best workshops re: usefulness & practical application & helpful key skills”, and “Lori was fantastic and did wonderful within the time allotted.”

Special thanks to the GALLERYone DoubleTree Hotel for working hard to ensure the Conference could take place, though many of their guestrooms and some meeting space had water damage from Hurricane Irma.

Networking and reconnecting with the SMART community are always atop the list of things most enjoyed by Conference participants. It’s really an event not to be missed – start planning now to join us in the fall of 2018. Stay tuned for dates and location.



Personal choice and empowerment

Posted on September 26, 2017

A Diverse and Welcoming Support Community

Rob Freundlich, SMART Recovery Meeting Facilitator

When I recognized and accepted my sex-related addiction in March 2015 (2 1/2 years ago), I started looking for resources to help in my recovery. I knew that in addition to a good therapist, I would need at least one good group. For various reasons, the 12-step approach didn’t appeal to me, so I looked for alternatives, and ended up finding SMART Recovery.

From the website, I learned that SMART emphasizes personal choice and empowerment, and uses a rational thought-based approach toward recovery It’s backed by scientific research and updated as new research and discoveries are made. On the site I also found a lot of information about the organization, detailed information about the program (including “how-to” pages), and an amazing amount of reading material about addiction and recovery in general.

For a science-minded person like me, who’d always thought I was very logical and rational but was mystified and frustrated at how illogical, irrational, and powerless this addiction had made me, it seemed like a great fit. The only catch was that even though the site talked about addiction in general, the materials seemed to focus an awful lot on substance addiction (primarily drinking). Would I fit in?

More importantly, would I be welcome? At the time, I had a tremendous amount of shame – more than most people with addictions because mine was … you know … SEX!

I walked into that first meeting very tentatively,  Continue reading

Seeing Yourself Sober

Posted on September 12, 2017

Benefits of developing a strong mental image of yourself as a non-drinker

Pete Soderman, author of Powerless No Longer

A few years ago, when I decided to quit smoking following a major heart attack, one of the techniques that made it easier was seeing myself as a nonsmoker. I visualized a person with fresh breath, no little holes in his shirt, no nicotine stains on his fingers, and no pack of smokes in his pocket. A person who could answer the phone, read the paper in the morning, have a cup of coffee, deal with stress, and socialize, all without having a cigarette constantly burning nearby. Not just any person either, it had to be myself in a new role.

To some extent, I used the same technique years before when I quit drinking, but not as consciously as I did with smoking. With drinking, I had to first convince myself that there even was a life without alcohol before I could see myself in it. Once I decided there was, I could imagine myself in all sorts of situations, even attending my daughter’s wedding, without a drink.

Let me make something clear at the beginning. I’m not talking about the “Think and Grow Rich,” “Power of Positive Thinking,” or “The Secret” thing here. What I’m talking about has nothing to do with quantum entanglement, spooky action at a distance, collapsing wave functions, or the “energy field” in the universe. If you’re into that kind of thing, you can find plenty of it elsewhere.

Instead, I’m talking about a way to help you change your way of thinking by making it easier to identify and dispute your irrational beliefs. Let me explain. Continue reading

Carl Rogers on “The” Model

Posted on September 5, 2017

By Ted Alston, Volunteer Meeting Facilitator

In 2005, William White and Martin Nicolaus wrote that SMART Recovery and other secular recovery groups “were influenced by the work of Carl Rogers and Albert Ellis”1. Ellis gave us the ABC Model and other tools. The influence of Rogers is less direct. I find the writings of Rogers to be tough reads. However, the following quote is clear and may be of interest to students of SMART2.

“We regard the medical model as an extremely inappropriate model for dealing with psychological disturbances. The model that makes more sense is a growth model or a developmental model. In other words we see people as having a potential for growth and development and that can be released under the right psychological climate. We don’t see them as sick and needing a diagnosis, a prescription and a cure; and that is a very fundamental difference with a good many implications” — Carl Rogers, 1978

SMART has no position on the so-called medical model, and Rogers did not find that model necessary. Furthermore, he cautioned against labels.

At different times, Ellis and Rogers were individually recognized as the Humanist of the Year by the American Humanist Association. From the photos, it is hard to say which psychologist sported the pointiest shirt collar.

1 White W, Nicolaus M. Styles of secular recovery. Counselor 2005;6(4):58-61.
2 The quote is from an interview and was selected by editor David Webb for the preface to Significant Aspects of Client-Centered Therapy, Psychology Classics, Carl Rogers.
Details of the interview are at

Continue reading